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John Burnet of Barns 

A Lost Lady of Old Years 

The Half-Hearted 

Prester John 

Salute to Adventurers 

The Thirty-Nine Steps 

The Power-House 



Grey Weather 

The Watcher by the Threshold 

The Moon Endureth 


Scholar Gipsies 

SoMB Eighteenth-Century Byways 


The African Colony 

A Lodge in the Wilderness 

The Taxation of Foreign Incomb 


A History of Brasenosb College 
Sir Waiter Raleigh 
The Marquis ok Montrose 
Andrew Jameson, Lord Ardwall 
A History of the War (in course of publi- 





Dukes . . . reminiscitur Argos 

— Virgil 




3r^ fj(Y 







UNDER HIS country's 


" / am co}iie fj-oin him whom thou hast loved 

and followed ; and my message is to tell thee 

that he expects thee at his table to sup with. 

him in his kingdom the next day after Easter." 

The Pilgrim's Progress 

Since there are many variants of our 

northern speech, it seems fitting to say that 

the Scots pieces in this Httle collection are 

written in the vernacular which is spoken in 

the hill country of the Lowlands, from the 

Cheviots to Galloway. Scots has never been 

to me a book-tongue; I could always speak 

it more easily than I could write it ; and 

I dare to hope that the faults of my verses, 

great as they are, are not those of an 

antiquarian exercise. 

J. B. 




Midian's Evil Day — Dear Reverend Sir, — I tak my pen 13 

The Herd of Farawa — Losh, man ! Did ever mortal 

see . . . . . . . . . 21 

The Eternal Feminine — When I was a freckled bit 

bairn . . . . . . . . . 30 

The South Countrie — I never likit the Kingdom o' Fife — 32 

The Shorter Catechism — When I was young and herdit 

sheep ......... 34 

The Kirn — 'Twas last back-end ..... 36 
The Fishers — 'Tis puirtith sooples .... 44 


Sweet Argos — When the Almichty took His hand 

On Leave — I had auchteen months o' the war 

The Kirk Bell — When oor lads gaed ower the tap 

Home Thoughts from Abroad — Aifter the war, says the 
papers ....... 

Fragment of an Ode — Ye'U a' hae heard tell 

The Great Ones — Ae morn aside the road frae Bray 

Fisher Jamie — Puir Jamie's killed 







Fratri DiLECTissiMO — When we were little wandering 

boys 73 

To Lionel Phillips — Time, they say. must the best of 

us capture ........ 76 

To Sir Reginald Talbot — I tell of old Virginian ways . 77 

From the Pentlands, Looking North and South — 

Around my feet the clouds are drawn • • ■ 79 

The Strong Man Armed — Gift me guerdon and grant me 

grace ......... 04 

The Soldier of Fortune — I have seen thy face in the 

foray ......... 86 

The Singer — Cold blows the drift on the hill . . 88 

Processional — In the ancient orderly places . . 91 

Avignon, 1759 — I walk abroad on winter days . . 93 

The Gipsy's Song to the Lady Cassilis — The door is 

open to the wall ....... 95 

Wood Magic — I will walk warily in the wise woods . 97 

The Song of the Sea Captain — I sail a lone sea captain 99 

Antiphilus of Byzantium — Give me a mat on the deck 105 

An Echo of Meleager — Scorn not my love, proud child 106 



Midlands Evil Day^ 

(From Alexander Cargill, Elder of the Kirk of the Remnant in 
the vale of Wae, to the Reverend Murdo Mucklethraw, 
Minister of the aforesaid Kirk, anent the Great Case recently 
argued in the House of Lords.) 

DEAR Reverend Sir, — I tak my pen 
To tell yon great occasion when 
We garred our licht shine afore men. 

Yea, far and wide, 
And smote the oppressor but and ben 
For a' his pride. 

1 The occasion of these verses requires a note. The union in 
1900 of the Free Church of Scotland and the United Presbyterian 
Church led to the secession of certain congregations of the former, 
who called themselves the Free Church, and maintained that the 
union involved a departure from the principles of that church 
and a breach of the conditions under which certain properties 
were held. They brought an action to establish their right to 
these properties, as the sole remaining repository of Free Church 
principles. This action was decided against the claimants in the 
Scottish courts, but, on appeal, the House of Lords, under the 
guidance of Lord Halsbury (then Lord Chancellor), reversed the 


Yoursel', ye mind, was far frae weel — 
A cauld ye catch't at Kippenshiel, 
Forbye rheumatics in your heel— 

And thus it came, 
Fou though ye were o' holy zeal, 

Ye stopped at hame. 

For me, my lambin'-time was bye, 
The muirland hay was nane sae high, 
The men were thrang, the grund was dry, 

Sae when ye spak, 
And bade me gang and testify, 

I heldna back. 

Wi' dowie hert I left that mom, 

Reflectin' on the waefu' scorn 

The Kirk maun thole, her courts forlorn. 

Her pillars broke, 
While Amalek exalts his horn, 

And fills his poke. 

I pondered the mischances sair 

The Lord had garred puir Scotland bear 

Frae English folk baith late and ear' 

Sin' Flodden year 
To the twae beasts at Carlisle fair 

I bocht ower dear. 


If true religion got a fa' 

Frae her auld courts and guid Scots law, 

What hope o' succour far awa' 

'Mang godless chiels, 
Whae at the Word sae crousely craw 

And fling their heels. 

As weel expect the Gospel sap 'ill 
Rise in uncovenantit thrapple 
As saw a ploom to raise an apple, 

Or think a soo 
Fleein' aloft on the hoose-tap 'ill 

Sit like a doo. 

1 Uke an owl in desert was, 
When to the coorts I buid to pass, 
Amang the crood to hear the Cause. 

Nae freend I saw, — 
Juist some auld lads set oot in raws 

And belchin' law. 

But ane sat cockit in atween, 
A wee man but as gleg's a preen : 
A walth o' sense was in his een 

And foreheid massy. 
" The Chancellor," I was tellt, when kcm 

1 speired whae was he. 


Wi' prayerfu' mind I watched the stert 
While Maister Johnston ^ played his pairt, 
And sune I fand my anxious hart 

Gie a great loup. 
" Yon Chancellor the ungodly's cairt." 

I said, " will coup." 

sir, that day I kent indeed 
There's men o' worth across the Tweed, 
Men whae are steadfast in the creed 

As Moses sel', 
Men whae the Word o' God can read 
And cling to Hell. 

1 thocht they were a careless race, 
Decked oot in cauld Erastian claes, 
Whae traivelled a' in slippery ways, 

Whase thochts were vain : 
But noo I ken they've gifts and grace 
E'en like oor ain. 

A Lowden chiel ^ — black be his tryst ! — 
A wise-like man, but ill advised. 
Led on the hosts o' Antichrist, 

And threepit bauld, 
That man could never back be wysed 

To Calvin's fauld. 

' Mr Henry Johnston, K.C., of the Scots Bar (afterwards 
Lord Johnston), led for the appellants. 

2 The leading counsel for the respondents was Mr R. B. Haldane 
(M.P. for East Lothian), afterwards Lord Chancellor of England. 


He made the yett o' Heaven sae wide 
The veriest stirk could get inside : 
Puffed up he was wi' warldly pride 

And fou o' German, 
Quotin' auld pagans for his guide 

And sic-hke vermin. 

He feucht wi' Prophets, jouked wi' Psalms, 
He got his legs clean ower the trams, 
He garred th' Apostles skip Uke rams 

To dae his biddin's : 
Oor auld Confessions were but shams, 

Their loss guid riddance. 

" God foreordained some men to Hell — 
Granted, but man can please himsel' 
Up to a point — and if I dwell 

Mair on free-will 
Than on election, I do well, 

A Christian still. 

" For these are mysteries," quo' he, 
" Whereon nae twae men can agree. 
And sae it's richt for you and me — 

The thing's sae kittle — 
Ane to consider half a lee, — 

Whilk — maitters little. 


" It's a'," he said, " confusion wild ; 
In siccan things the best's a child ; 
Some walk an ell and some a mile ; 

But never fear, 
Thae doots will a' be reconciled 

In higher sphere. 

" Therefore a kirk, whase lamps are bright. 
Bequeathed by auld divines o' might, 
Can fling them tapsalteerie quite. 

And think nae shame ; 
For white is black and black is white, 

It's a' the same." 

But what availed his carnal lear 
Against a man o' faith and prayer ? 
As through the thristles gangs the share 

And dings them doun. 
E'en sae the Chancellor cleft him fair 

Frae heel to croun. 

He pinned him wi' the Bible words. 
He clove at him wi' Calvin's swirds. 
He garred him loup aboot the boards 

Wi' muckle mense, 
And bund him wi' the hempen cords 

0' plain guid sense. 


" Threep as ye please, it's clear to me, 
Whether or no' the twae agree, 
Baith doctrines were appoint to be 

The Kirk's chief pillar. 
If ane ye like to leave," says he, 

" Ye leave the siller." 

Oh, wi' what unction he restored 
The auld commandments o' the Lord, 
Confoonded Bashan's nowt that roared, 

And 'stablished Hell ! 
Knox was nae soonder in the Word 

Nor Calvin's sel'. 

I'll no' deny yon Lowden chiel 

Was gleg as ony slippery eel, 

For twae-three men frae Kippenshiel 

Begood to waver ; 
I half inclined to doot the Deil 

A' through his claver. 

But when a man o' faith and power 
Uprose, he couldna bide an hour : 
The weakest's doots were tided ower 

Anither towmont. 
The Kirk stood firm as auld stane tower 

Wi' safe endowment. 


1 hae a bull, a noble breed, 
A shorthorn wi' a massy held, 
Wi' quarters fine and coat o' reid : 
^ On ilka lea 

Frae Thurso to the banks o' Tweed 
He bears the gree. 

I ca'ed him Begg,' the same's his sire ; 

But noo for sign to a' the shire 

O' yon great day when frae the mire 

Our feet we bore, 
His name shall be in field and byre 

" The Chancellor." 

* A famous Free Church divine of the old school. 



The Herd of Famwa 

Who in an April hailstorm discoursed to the traveller on the 

present discontents. 

Pastorum et solis exegii moniibus aevum. — Virgil. 

LOSH, man ! Did ever mortal see 
Sic blasts o' snaw ? Ye'll bide a wee. 
Afore ye think to cross the lea, 

And mount the slack ! 
Kin'le your pipe, and straucht your knee. 
And gie's your crack ! 

Hoo lang, ye speir ! An unco while ! 
It's seeventy-sax 'ear came Aprile 
That I cam here frae Auchentyle — 

A bairn o' nine ; 
And mony's the dreich and dreary mile 

I've gaed sin' syne. 

My folk were herds, sae roond the fauld 

Afore I was twae towmonts auld 

They fand me snowkin', crouse and bauld 

In snaw and seep — 
As Dauvid was to kingdoms called, 

Sae I to sheep. 


I herdit first on Etterick side. 

Dod, man, I mind the stound o' pride 

Gaed through my hert, when near and wide 

My dowgs I ran. 
Though no seeventeen till Lammastide 

I walked a man. 

I got a wife frae Eskdalemuir, 

O' dacent herdin' folk, and sair 

We wrocht for lang, baith late and 'ear, 

For weans cam fast, 
And we were never aucht but puir 

Frae first to last. 

Tales I could tell wad gar ye grue 
O' snawy lambin's warstled through, 
O' drifty days, and win's that blew 

Frae norlan' sky. 
And spates that filled the haughiands fou 

And drooned the kye. 

But, still and on, the Hfe was fine. 
For yon were happier days langsyne ; 
For gear to hain, and gear to tine 

I had nae care — 
Content I was wi' what was mine, 

And bhthe to share. 


Sic flocks yell never see the day, 
Nae fauncy ills to mak ye wae, 
Nae fauncy dips wi' stawsome broo, 

Wad fricht the French ; 
We wrocht alang the auld guid way, 

And fand it stench. 

Nae mawkit kets, nae scabbit een, 
But ilka yowe as trig's a preen ; 
Sic massy tups as ne'er were seen 

Sin' Job's allowance, 
And lambs as thick on ilka green 

As simmer gowans. 

Whaur noo ae hirsel jimp can bide 
Three hirsels were the countra's pride. 
And mony a yaird was wavin' wide. 

And floo'ers were hingin', 
Whaur noo is but the bare hillside, 

And Hnties singin'. 

And God ! the men ! Whaur could ye find 
Sic hertsome lads, sae crouse and kind ; 
Sic skeel o' sheep, sic sarious mind 

At kirk and prayer — 
Yet aiblins no to hand or bind 

At Boswells fair ? 


Frae Galloway to Aiberdeen 

(I mind the days as 'twere yestreen) 

I've had my cantrips — Lord a wheen ! 

But through them a', 
The fear o' God afore my een, 

I keep't the Law. 

My nieves weel hoddit in my breeks, 

The Law I keep't, and turned baith cheeks 

Until the smiter, saft and meek's 

A bairn at schule ; 
Syne struck, and laid him bye for weeks 

To learn the fule. 

Frae Melrose Cauld to Linkumdoddie, 

I'd fecht and drink wi' ony body ; 

Was there a couthy lad ? Then, dod, he 

Sune fand his fellow. 
What time the tippenny or the toddy 

Had garred us mellow. 

Nae wark or ploy e'er saw me shirk ; 
I had an airm wad fell a stirk ; 
I traivelled ten lang mile to kirk 

In wind and snaw ; 
I tell 'e, sir, frae morn to mirk, 

I keep't the Law. 


Weekly we gat, and never fail, 
Screeds marrowy as a pat o' kail, 
And awfu' as the Grey Meer's Tail 

In Lammas rain, 
And stey and lang as Moffatdale, 

And stieve's a stane. 

Nae Gospel sowens fit for weans, 

But doctrines teuch as channel-stanes ; 

We heard the Word wi' anxious pains, 

Sarious and happy. 
And half the week we piked the banes. 

And fand them sappy. 

Lang years aneath a man o' God 
I sat, my Bible on the brod ; 
He wasna feared to Uft the rod 

And scaud the errin' ; 
He walked whaur our great forbears trod, 

And blest his farin'. 

But noo we've got a bairnly breed, 
Whase wee-bit shilpit greetin' screed 
Soughs like a wast wind ower the heid, 

Lichter than 'oo' ; 
Lassies and weans, it suits their need, 

No me and you ! 


My dochter's servin' in the toun, 
She gangs to hear a glaikit loon, 
Whae rows his een, and twirls him roun' 

Like ane dementit. 
Nae word o' Hell, nae sicht or soun' 

O' sin repentit. 

But juist a weary, yammerin' phrase 

O' "Saunts" and "Heaven" and "love" and 

" praise," 
Words that a grown man sudna iise, 

God ! sic a scunner ! 
I had to rise and gang my ways 
To haud my denner. 

At halesome f auts they lift their han' , 
Henceforth, they cry, this new comman', 
Bide quate and doucely in the Ian' 

And love your brither — 
This is the total end o' man, 

This and nae ither. 

And that's their creed ! An owercome braw 
For folks that kenna fear or fa'. 
Grouse birds that on their midden craw 

Nor think o' scaith, 
That keep the trimmin' o' the Law 

And scorn the pith. 


It's no for men that nicht and day 
See the Almichty's awesome way, 
And ken themselves but ripps o' strae 

Afore His wind, 
And, dark or licht, maim watch and pray 

His grace to hnd. 

My forbear, hunkerin' in a hag. 
Was martyred by the laird o' Lagg ; 
He dee'd afore his heid wad wag 

In God's denial. 
D'ye think the folk that rant and brag 

Wad thole yon trial ? 

Man, whiles I'd like to gang mysel 
And wile auld Claverse back frae Hell ; 
Claverse, or maybe Tam Dalziel, 

\\a.d stop their fleechin' ; 
I wager yon's the lads to mell 

And mend sic preachin'. 

Whaure'er I look I find the same, 

The warld's nae gumption in its wame ; 

E'en sin' I mind the human frame 

Grows scrimp and shauchled, 
O' a' man's warks ye canna name 

Ane that's no bauchled. 


There's mawkit sheep and feckless herds. 
And poopits fou o' senseless words ; 
Instead o' kail we sup on curds. 

And wersh the taste o't ; 
To parritch-sticks we've turned our swirds, 

Sae mak' the maist o't. 

And poalitics ! I've seen the day 
I'd walk ten mile ower burn and brae 
To hear some bilhe hae his say 

About the nation. 
Tories and a' their daft-like play 

Fand quick damnation. 

I thocht — for I was young — that folk 
Were a' the same ; I scorned the yoke 
O' cless or gear ; wi' pigs in poke 

I took nae han'. 
I daured the hale wide warld to choke 

The richts o' man. 

It's still my creed, but hech ! sin' then 
We've got the richts and lost the men ; 
We've got a walth o' gear to spen' 

And nane to spend it ; 
The warld is waitin' ripe to men', 

And nane to mend it. 


Our maisters are a flock o' daws, 
Led on by twae-three hoodie-oraws ; 
They weir our siller, mak' our laws, 

And God ! sic makin' ! 
And we sit roun' wi' lood applause, 

And cheer their crakin'. 

We're great ; but daur we lift a nieve 
Wi'oot our neebors grant their leave ? 
We're free, folk say, to speak, believe, 

Dae what we wull — 
And what's oor gain ? A din to deave 

A yearlin' bull ! 

• • • • • 

A dwaibly warld ! I'll no deny 
There's orra blessin's. I can buy 
My baccy cheap, and feed as high 

For half the siller ; 
For saxpence ony man can lie 

As fou's the miller. 

A bawbee buys a walth o' prent, 
And every gowk's in Paurliament ; 
The warld's reformed — but sir, tak tent, 

For a' their threep. 
There's twae things noo that arena kent — 

That's MEN and SHEEP. 



The Eternal Femhiine 

WHEN I was a freckled bit bairn 
And cam in frae my ploys to the fire, 
Wi' my buits a' clamjamphried wi' shairn 

And my jaicket a' speldered wi' mire, 
I got gloomin' and glunchin' and paiks. 

And nae bite frae the press or the pan, 
And my auld grannie said as she skelped me to bed, 
" Hech, sirs, what a burden is man ! " 

When I was a lang-leggit lad. 

At waddin's and kirns a gey cheild, 
I hae happit a lass in my maud 

And gone cauldrife that she micht hae beild. 
And convoyed her bye bogles and stirks, 

A kiss at the hindmost my plan ; 
But a' that I fand was the wecht o' her hand, 

And " Hech, sirs, what a burden is man! " 

When Ailie and me were made jdn 

We set up in a canty bit cot ; 
Sair wrocht we day oot and day in. 

We were unco content wi' oor lot. 


But whiles wi' a neebor I'd tak 

A gless that my held couldna stan' ; 
Syne she'd greet for a week, and nae word wad she speak 

But " Hech, sirs, what a burden is man ! " 

She dee'd, and my dochter and me 

For the lave wi' ilk ither maun shift. 
Nae tentier lass could ye see ; 

The wooers cam doun hke a drift ; 
But sune wi' an unco blae glower 

Frae the doorstep they rade and they ran, 
And she'd sigh to hersel', as she gae'd to the weD, 

" Hech, sirs, what a burden is man ! " 

She's mairrit by noo and she's got 

A white-heided lass o' her ain. 
White-heided mysel, as I stot 

Roond the doors o' her shouther I'm fain. 
What think ye that wean said yestreen ? 

I'll tell ye, beheve't if ye can ; 
She primmed up her mou' and said saft as a doo, 

" Hech, sirs, what a burden is man ! " 



The South Coimtrie 

I NEVER likit the Kingdom o' Fife- 
Its kail's as cauld as its wind and rain, 
And the folk that bide benorth o' the Clyde 
They speak a langwidge that's no my ain. 
Doun in the west is a clarty nest, 

And the big stane cities are no for me ; 
Sae I'll buckle my pack on my auld bent back 
And tak the road for the South Countrie. 

Whaur sail I enter the Promised Land, 

Ower the Sutra or doun the Lyne, 
Up the side o' the water o' Clyde 

Or cross the muirs at the heid o' Tyne, 
Or staucherin' on by Crawford John 

Yont to the glens whaur Tweed rins wee ? — 
It's maitter sma' whaur your road may fa' 

Gin it land ye safe in the South Countrie. 

Yon are the hills that my hert kens weel, 
Hame for the weary, rest for the auld, 

Braid and high as the Aprile sky, 

Blue on the taps and green i' the fauld : 


At ilka turn a bit wanderin' burn, 

And a canty biggin' on ilka lea — 
There's nocht sae braw in the wide world's schaw 

As the heughs and holms o' the South Countrie. 

Yon are the lads that my hert loes weel, 

Frank and couthy and kind to a', 
Wi' the open broo and the mirthfu' mou 

And the open door at the e'enin's fa' ; 
A trig hamesteid and a lauchin' breed 

0' weans that hearten the auld to see — 
Sma' or great, can ye find the mate 

O' the folk that bide in the South Countrie ? 

The lichtest fit that traivels the roads 

Maun lag and drag as the end grows near ; 
Threescore and ten are the years o' men, 

And I'm bye the bit by a lang lang year. 
Sae I'll seek my rest in the land loe'd best. 

And ask nae mair than that God sail gie 
To my failin' een for the hinmost scene 

The gentle hills o' the South Countrie. 



The Shorter Catechism 

(With Proofs) 

WHEN I was young and herdit sheep, 
I read auld tales o' Wallace wight ; 
My heid was fou o' sangs and threep 

O' folk that feared nae mortal might. 
But noo I'm auld and weel I ken 

We're made aUke o' gowd and mire ; 
There's saft bits in the stievest men, 
The bairnhest's got a spunk o' fire. 
Sae hearken to me, lads, 

It's truith that I teU ;— 
There's nae man a' courage — 
/ ken by myseV . 

I've been an elder forty year, 

I've tried to keep the narrow way, 
I've walked afore the Lord in fear, 

I've never missed the kirk a day, 
I've read the Bible in and oot, 

I ken the feck o't clean by hert ; — 
But still and on I sair misdoot 

I'm better noo than at the stert. 


Sae hearken to me, lads, 

It's truith I maintain ! — 
Man's works are but rags, for 

/ ken by my ain. 

I hae a name for dacent trade ; 
I'll wager a' the countryside 
Wad swear nae trustier man was made 

The ford to soom, the bent to bide. 
But when it comes to coupin' horse 

I'm juist like a' that e'er were born, 
I fling my heels and tak my course — 
I'd sell the minister the morn. 
Sae hearken to me, lads, 

It's truith that I tell :— 
There's nae man deid honest — 
/ ken by mysel'. 




The Kirn'^ 

(idyll vii) 

TWAS last back-end that me and Dauvit Sma' 
And Robert Todd, the herd at Meldonha', 
The hairst weel ower and under rape and thack. 
Set oot to keep the kirn at Haystounslack, 
Wat Laidlaw's fairm — for Wat's the rale stench breed 
The Borders kenned afore the auld lairds dee'd, 
And a' the soor-milk Wast ran doun the Tweed. 

We werena half the road, nor bye the grain 
Whaur auncient Druids left the standin' stane, 
When Gidden Scott cam heinchin' ower the muir, 
Gidden the wale o' men ; ilk kirn and fair, 

^ The Greek text has not been followed in the songs, as it would 
be hard to find equivalents for Lycidas and Simichidas in Lowland 
Scots. Jock's song is a free paraphrase of Victor Hugo's Guitare. 
How close that famous lyric is to the Theocritean manner will 
be admitted by those who remember Walter Headlam's Greek 
version of it. 


Clippin' and spainin', was a cheerier place 

For ae sicht o' his honest bawsened face. 

He was a drover, famed frae Clyde to Spey, 

The graundest juidge o' beasts^a dealer tae. 

His furthy coat o' tup's 'oo spun at hame, 

His weel-worn maud that buckled roond his wame, 

His snootit kep that hid the broos aneath, 

His buits \vv tackets like a harrow's teeth, 

His shairny leggin's and his michty staff 

Proclaimed him for a drover three mile aff . 

" Losh ! lads," he cried, " whaur are ye traivellin' noo. 

Trig as the lassies decked for them they loe ? 

Is't to a countra splore, or to the toun 

Whaur creeshy bailHes to their feasts sit doun ? 

Or is't some waddin' wi' its pipes and reels 

That gars the chuckies loup ahint your heels ? " 

" Weel met," says I. " The day our jaunt we mak 
To join Wat Laidlaw's kirn at Haystounslack. 
Lang is the gait, and, sin' it's pairtly yours, 
What say ye to a sang to wile the 'oors ? 
In a' the land frae Wigtoun to the Mearns 
There's nane that ploos sae straucht the rig o' Burns 
As your guid sel' (so rins the countra sough) ; 
And I, though frae sic genius far eneuch, 
I, tae, hae cUnkit rhymes at orra whiles. 
We'll niffer sangs to pass the muirland miles." 


" Na, Jock," says he, and wagged a sarious pow, 
" Sma' share hae I in that divinest lowe. 
A roopy craw as weel a pairt micht claim 
r the laverock's sang as me in Robin's fame. 
But sin' we're a' guid freends, I'll sing a sang 
I made last Monday drovin' ower the Whang." * 

Gidden's Song 

Sin' Andra took the jee and gaed aff across the sea 
I'm as dowff as ony fisher-wife that watches on the sand, 

I'm as restless as a staig, me that aince was like a craig, 
When I think upon yon far frera't land. 

We had aften cuistcn oot, I mindna what aboot ; 

We had feucht a bit and flytit and gien and taen the 
blow ; 
But oor dander was nae mair than the rouk in simmer air, 

For I loe'd him as a lassie loes her joe. 

He had sic a couthy way, aye sae canty and sae gay ; 

He garred a body's hert loup up and kept the warld 
gaun roun' ; 
The dreichest saul could see he had sunhcht in his ee, 

And there's no his marrow left in the toun. 

' The Lang Whang is the old Edinburgh-Lanark road. 


We were 'greed like twae stirks that feed amang the birks. 
My every thocht I shared wi' him, his hinmost plack 
was mine ; 
We had nocht to hide frae ither, he was mair to me than 
brither ; 
But that's a' bye wi't langsyne. 

As I gang oot and m, in my heid there rins a tiine, 
Some tiine o' Andra's playin' in the happy days that's 

When I sit at festive scene there's a mist comes ower my 

For the kind lad that's left me my lane. 

So Gidden spak, and ower the lave o' us cam 
A sadness waur than penitential psalm. 
The tiine was cried ; nae jovial rantin' stave 
Wad set a mood sae pensive and sae grave. 
Sae, followin' on, I cleared "ny hass and sung 
A sang I made langsyne when I was young. 

Jock's Song 

Sing, lads, and bend the bicker ; gloamin' draps 

On Wiston side. 
A' ye that dwal in sicht o' Tintock's taps 

Frae Tweed to Clyde ' 


Gae stert your reels and ding the warlock Care 

At young bluid's call. 
The wind that hlaws frae yont the mountain mnit 

Will steal my saul. 

Mind ye the lass that iised to bide langsyne 

At Coulter-fit ? 
(Gae pipe your sprigs, for youth is ill to bin' 

And pleesures flit.) 
Her mither keep't the inn, and doun the stair 

A' day wad bawl. 
The wind that hlaws frae yont the mountain muir 

Will steal my saul. 

My heid rins round — I think they ca'd her Jean. 

She looked sae high, 
She walked sae prood, it micht hae been the Queen 

As she gaed bye, 
Buskit sae trig, and ower her yellow hair 

A denty shawl. 
The wind that hlaws frae yont the mountain muir 

Will steal my saul. 

Ae day the King himsel' was ridin' through 

And saw her face. 
He telled his son, " For ae kiss o' her mou 

I'd change my place 
Wi' ony gangrel, roup my royal share, 

My kingly hall." 
The wind that hlaws frae yont the mountain muir 

Will steal my saul. 


I kenna if I loe'd the lassie true, 

But this I ken ; 
To get a welcome frae her een o' blue, 

To see again 
Her dimpled cheek, ten 'ears o' life I'd spare 

In prison wall. 
The wind that hlaws jrae yont the mountain miiir 

Will steal my saul. 

Ae simmer morn when a' the lift was clear 

And saft winds sighed, 
Wi' kilted coats I saw her wanderin' near 

The burnie's tide. 
Thinks I, Queen Mary was na half as fair 

In days o' auF, 
The wind that hlaws frae yont the mountain muir 

Will steal my saul. 

Sing, lads, and bend the bicker ; e'enin' fa's — 

My denty doo 
Has seirt hersel' for gowd and silken braws 

That weemen loe. 
A feckless laird has bocht her beauty rare, 

Her love, her all. 
The wind that blaws frae yont the mountain muir 

Will steal my saul. 


I watched them as their coach gaed ower the pass 

Wi' bUndit een ; 
A shilpit carle aside the brawest lass 

That Scotland's seen. 
Far, far she's gane, and toom the warld and puir 

Whaur I maun dwal. 
The wind that hlaws Jrae yont the mountain muir 

Will steal my saul. 

A' day I wander hke a restless ghaist 

Ower hill and lea ; 
The gun hangs in the spence, the rod's uniised, 

The dowg gangs free. 
At nicht I dream, and O ! my dreams are sair, 

My hert's in thrall. 
The wind that hlaws frae yont the mountain muir 

Has stown my saul. 

Loud Gidden spak ; " Weel dune ! — The convoy's ower. 
Here we maun pairt, for I'm for Auchenlour. 
Oor forbears, when they set a makkers' test 
Gied cups and wreaths to him that sang the best. 
Nae drink hae I, thae muirland floo'ers are wauf, 
Sae tak for awms my trustit hazel staff." 

We cried guid-farin' to his massy back, 
And turned intil the road for Haystounslack. 
Aroond the hills and heughs the gloamin' crap. 
And a braw mune cam ridin' ower the slap. 


The stirlin's crooded thick as flees in air, 

An auld blackcock was flytin' on the muir. 

Afore the steadin' cairts were settin' doun 

Ilk snoddit lassie in her kirk-gaun gown, 

And bauld young lads were swingin' up the braes, 

Ilk ane wi' glancin' een and dancin' taes. 

The fiddles scrapit and atower the din 

The " Floo'ers o' Embro' " soughed oot on the win'. 

Furth frae the ben cam sic a noble reek 

That hungry folk maun snowk but dauma speak ;— 

Haggis and tripe, and puddin's black, and yill, 

And guid saut beef and braxy frae the hill, 

Crisp aiten farles, bannocks and seein' kail ; 

And at the door stood Wat to cry us hail. 

His waHe nieves upheld a muckle bowl 

Whase spicy scent was unction to the saul. 

His ladle plowtered in the reamin' brew. 

And for us three he filled the rummers fou, 

Nae nectar that the auld gods quaffed on hie, 

Nae heather wine wanchancy warlocks prie, 

Nae Well o' Bethlehem or Siloam's pule, 

Was ever half as guid as Wattle's yill. 

Heaven send anither 'ear that I gang back 
To drink wi' honest folk at Haystounslack ! 




The Fishers 

(IdyU xxi) 

•rr^IS puirtith sooples held and hand 

X And gars inventions fill the land ; 
And dreams come fast to folk that lie 
Wi' nocht atween them and the sky. 

Twae collier lads frae near Lasswade, 
Auld skeely fishers, fand their bed 
Ae simmer's nicht aside the shaw 
Whaur Manor rins by Cademuir Law. 
Dry flowe-moss made them pillows fine, 
And, for a bield to kep the win', 
A muckle craig owerhung the burn, 
A' thacked wi' blaeberry and fern. 
Aside them lay their rods and reels. 
Their flee-books and their auncient creels. 
The pooches o' their moleskin breeks 
Contained unlawfu' things like cleeks, 
For folk that fish to fill their wame 
Are no fasteedious at the game. 


The twae aye took their jaunts thegither ; 
Geordie was ane and Tarn the ither. 
Their chaumer was the mune-bricht sky. 
The siller stream their lullaby. 

When knocks in touns were chappin' three, 

Tam woke and rubbed a blinkin' ee. 

It was the 'oor when troots are boun' 

To gulp the May-flee floatin' doun, 

Afore the sun is in the glens 

And dim are a' the heughs and dens. 


" Short is the simmer's daurk, they say, 
But this ane seemed as lang's the day ; 
For siccan dreams as passed my sicht 
I never saw in Januar' nicht. 
If some auld prophet chiel were here 
I wad hae curious things to speir." 


" It's conscience gars the nichtmares rin, 
Sae, Tam my lad, what hae ye dune ? " 


" Nae ill ; my saul is free frae blame. 
Nor hae I wrocht ower hard my wame, 
For last I fed, as ye maun awn. 
On a sma' troot and pease-meal scone. 


But hear my dream, for aiblins you 
May find a way to riddle't true. . . 

I thocht that I was castin' steady 

At the piile's tail ayont the smiddy, 

Wi' finest gut and sma'est flee, 

For the air was clear and the water wee ; 

When sudden wi' a rowst and swish 

I rase a maist enormous fish . . . 

I struck and heuked the monster shiire, 

Guidsakes ! to see him loup in air ! 

It was nae saumon, na, nor troot ; 

To the last yaird my line gaed oot, 

As up the stream the warlock ran 

As wild as Job's Leviathan. 

I got him stopped below the Hnn, 

Whaur verra near I tummled in, 

Aye prayin' hard my heuk wad hand ; 

And syne he turned a dorty jaud, 

Sulkin' far doun amang the stanes. 

I tapped the butt to stir his banes. 

He warsled here and plowtered there. 

But still I held him ticht and fair, 

The water rinnin' oxter-hie. 

The sweat aye drippin' in my ee. 

Sae bit by bit I wysed him richt 

And broke his stieve and fashions micht. 

Till sair fordone he cam to book 

And walloped in a shallow crook. 


1 liad nae gad, sae doun my wand 
I flang and pinned him on the sand. 
I claucht him in baith airms and pcched 
Ashore — he was a michty wecht ; 
Nor stopped till I had got him shiire 
Amang the threshes on the muir. 

Then, Geordie lad, my een I rowed 
The beast was made o' sohd gowd ! — 
Sic ferlie as was never kenned, 
A' glitterin' gowd frae end to end ! 
I lauched, I grat, my kep I flang, 
I danced a sprig, I sang a sang. 
And syne I wished that I micht dee 
If wark again was touched by me. . . . 

Wi' that I woke ; nae fish was there — 
Juist the burnside and empty muir. 
Nog tell me honest, Geordie lad, 
Think ye yon dafthke aith will hand ? " 


" Tuts, Tam ye fule, the aith ye sware 
Was like your fish, nae less, nae mair. 
For dreams are nocht but simmer rouk, 
And him that trusts them hunts the gowk. 
It's time we catched some fish o' flesh 
Or we will baith gang brekfastless." 




Sweet Argos 

An Epistle from Jock in billets to Sandy in the trenches. 

WHEN the Almichty took His hand 
Frae shapin' skies and seas and land. 
Some orra bits left ower He fand, 

Riddled them roun' — 
A dart o' stane and wud and sand — 
And made this toun, 

A glaury loan, a tumblin' kirk, 

Twae glandered mears, a dwaibly stirk. 

Hens, ae auld wife, a wauflike birk — 

That's whaur I dwal. 
While you are fechtin' like a Turk 

Ayont Thiepval. 

The weet drips through the banks abune, 
Ootbye the cundies roar and rin. 
There's comfort naether oot nor in, 

The wind gangs blather ; — 
We maun be michty sunk in sin 

To earn sic wather. 


But, Sandy lad, for you it's waur, 
You on that muckle Zollern scaur, 
Your lintwhite locks a' fyled wi' glaur, 

And hungry — my word ! 
While Gairmans dae the best they daur 

To send ye skyward. . . . 

'Twas late yestreen that we cam doun 
The road that leads frae Morval toun ; 
We cam like mice, nae sang nor soun', 

Nae daff nor jest ; 
Like ghaists that trail the midnicht roun' 

We crap to rest. 

For sax weeks hunkerin' in a hole 
We'd kenned the warst a man can thole 
Nae skirUn' dash frae goal to goal 

Yellin' Uke wud. 
But the lang stell that wechts the soul 

And tooms the bluid. 

Weel, yestereen we limped alang, 
Me and auld Dave frae Cambuslang, 
And Andra, him that had the gang 

In Tamson's mills, 
And Linton Bob that wrocht amang 

The Pentland Hills. 


And as we socht oor shauchlin' way 
Atween the runts o' Bernafay, 
The mune ayont the darkenin' brae 

Lichted a gap. 
Bob peched. " Ma God," I heard him say, 

" The Cauldstaneslap ! " 

Syne we won ower the hinmost rig 
Amang the dumps, whaur warm and trig 
The braziers lowe and wee trucks jig 

Frae bing to ree. 
Dave gripped my airm. " It's fair Coatbrig ! " 

He stepped oot free. . . , 

This mom I'm sittin' on a box, 
Reddin' an unco pair o' socks, 
Watchin' the yaird whaur muckle docks 

And nettles blaw, 
And turks' caps, marygolds and phlox 

Stand in a raw. 

The berry busses hing wi' weet, 

The smiddy clang comes doun the street, 

A coo is routin', bairnies greet, 

A young cock craws. — 
I shut my een ; my traivelled feet 

Were back i' the Shaws. 


Back twenty year. A tautit wean, 
I heard my granny's voice complain 
0' bursted buits : I saw the rain 

Rin aff the byre ; 
The burn wi' foamin' yellow mane 

Roared doun the swire. 

A can o' worms ae pooch concealed, 

The tither scones weel brooned and jeeled ; 

Let eld sit cowerin' in the beild, 

Youth maun be oot ; 
The rain may pour, he's for the field 

To catch a troot. . . . 

And, Sandy lad, a stound o' joy 

Gaed through my breist. A halflin's ploy. 

An auld wife's tale, a bairnie's toy, 

A lassie's favour. 
Are things nae war can clean destroy 

Nor kill the savour. 

It's in sma' things that greatness lies, 
The simple aye confoonds the wise, 
The towers that ettle at the skies 

Crack, coup and tummle. 
The blather, swalled to unco size, 

Bursts wi' a rummle. . . . 

Straucht to the Deil oor hainin's fly ; 
A spate can droon the best o' kye : 
The day oor heids we cairry high 

And wanton rarely : — 
The morn in some black sheugh dounbye 

We floonder sairly. 

The breist o' man is fortune-pruif, 
He heeds nor jade nor deil nor cuif, 
If twae-three things the Guid Folk give 

His lot to cheer, 
The sma' things that oor mortal luve 

Maun aye hand dear. 

What gars us fecht ? It's no the law, 

Nor poaliticians in a raw, 

Nor hate o' folk we never saw ; — 

Oot in yon hell 
I've killed a wheen — the job wad staw 

Auld Hornie's sel'. 

It's luve, my man, nae less nae mair,— 
Luve o' auld freends at kirk and fair, 
Auld-farrant sangs that memories bear 

O' but and ben. 
Some wee cot-hoose far up the muir 

Or doun the glen. 


And Gairmans are nae doot the same 
The lad ye've stickin' in the wame 
Fechts no for deevilment or fame, 

But juist for pride 
In his bit dacent canty hame 

By some burnside. 

It's queer that the Almichty's plan 
Sud set oot man to fecht wi' man 
For the same luve — their native Ian', 

And wife and weans. 
It's queer, but threep the best ye can. 

The truith remains. 

The warld's a fecht. Frae star to stane 
The hale Creation strives in pain. 
Paiks maun be tholed by ilk alane, 

The cup be drainit, 
If man's to get the bunemost gain 

That God's ordainit. 

But luve's the fire that keeps him guan. 
Ilk puir forjaskit weariet man. 
Hate sparks like pouther in the pan, 

And pride will flicker. 
But luve will burn till skies are faun, 

Mair clear and siccar. 


And a' we socht o' honest worth 
We'll find again in nobler birth, 
For Heaven itsel' begins on earth. 

And caps the riggin' 
O' what in pain and toil and dearth 

We've aye been biggin'. 

Nae walth o' gowden streets for me ; 

I ask but that my een sud see 

The auld green hopes, the broomy lea. 

The clear burn's piiles. 
And wander whaur the wind blaws free 

Frae heather hills. 

Sae, Sandy, if it's written true 

That you and me sud warstle through, 

Wi' whatna joy we'll haud the ploo 

And delve the yaird ! 
Ten thoosandfauld the mair we'll loe 

Oor Border swaird ! 

But if like ither dacent men 

We've looked oor last on Etterick glen 

And some day sune will see the en' 

That brings nae shame. 
We'll face't,— for in that 'oor we'll ken 

We're hame, we're hame. 



On Leave 

I HAD auchteen months o' the war, 
Steel and pouther and reek, 

Fitsore, weary and wauf, — 
Syne I got hame for a week. 

Daft -like I entered the toun, 
I scarcely kenned for my ain. 

I sleep! t twae days in my bed, 
The third I buried my wean. 

The wife sat greetin' at hame, 
While I wandered oot to the hill, 

My hert as cauld as a stane, 
But my heid gaun roond like a mill. 

I wasna the man I had been, — 
Juist a gangrel dozin' in fits ; — 

The pin had faun oot o' the warld, 
And I doddered amang the bits. 


I clamb to the Lammerlaw 
And sat me doun on the cairn ; — 

The best o' my freends were deid, 
And noo I had buried my bairn ; — 

The stink o' the gas in my nose, 
The colour o' bluid in my ee, 

And the biddin' o' Hell in my lug 
To curse my Maker and dee. 

But up in that gloamin' hour, 
On the heather and thymy sod, 

Wi' the sun gaun doun in the Wast 
I made my peace wi' God. . . . 

• • • • • 

I saw a thoosand hills, 
Green and gowd i' the licht, 

Roond and backit like sheep, 
Huddle into the nicht. 

But I kenned they werena hills, 
But the same as the mounds ye see 

Doun by the back o' the line 
Whaur they bury oor lads that dee. 

They were juist the same as at Loos 
Whaur we happit Andra and Dave.- 

There was naething in life but death, 
And a' the warld was a grave. 


A' the hills were graves. 

The graves o' the deid langsyne, 
And somewhere oot in the Wast 

Was the grummlin' battle-line. 
. . . . • 

But up frae the howe o' the glen 

Came the waft o' the simmer een. 
The stink gaed oot o my nose, 

And I sniffed it, caller and clean. 

The smell o' the simmer hills. 
Thyme and hinny and heather, 

Jeniper, birk and fern. 

Rose in the lown June weather. 

It minded me o' auld days, 
When I wandered barefit there, 

GuddHn' troot in the burns, 
Howkin' the tod frae his lair. 

If a' the hills were graves 

There was peace for the folk aneath 
And peace for the folk abune. 

And life in the hert o' death. . . . 

• • • • • 

Up frae the howe o' the glen 

Cam the murmur o' wells that creep 

To swell the heids o' the burns. 
And the kindly voices o' sheep. 


And the cry o' a whaup on the wing, 
And a plover seekin' its bield. — 

And oot o' my crazy lugs 

Went the din o' the battlefield. 

I flang me doun on my knees 
And I prayed as my hert wad break. 

And I got my answer sune, 
For oot o' the nicht God spake. 

As a man that wauks frae a stound 
And kens but a single thocht, 

Oot o' the wind and the nicht 
I got the peace that I socht. 

Loos and the Lammerlaw, 

The battle was feucht in baith. 

Death was roond and abune, 
But Hfe in the hert o' death. 

A' the warld was a grave, 

But the grass on the graves was green, 
And the stanes were bields for hames, 

And the laddies played atween. 

KneeHn' aside the cairn 

On the heather and thymy sod, 

The place I had kenned as a bairn, 
I made my peace wi' God. 



The Kirk Bell 

WHEN oor lads gaed ower the tap 
It was nine o' a Sabbath morn. 
I felt as my hert wad stap, 

And I wished I had ne'er been bom ; 

I wished I had ne'er been born 
For I feared baith the foe and mysel', 

Till there fell on my ear forlorn 
The jow o' an auld kirk bell. 
For a moment the guns were deid, 

Sae I heard it faint and far ; 
And that bell was ringin' inside my held 

As I stauchered into the war. 

I heard nae ither soun'. 

Though the air was a wild stramash, 
And oor barrage beat the grun' 

Like the crack o' a cairter's lash, 

Like the sting o' a lang whup lash ; 
And ilk breath war a prayer or an aith, 

And whistle and drone and crash 
Made the pitiless sang o' death. 


But in a' that deavin' din 
Like the cry o' the lost in Hell, 

I was hearkenin' to a peacefu' tiine 
In the jow o' a far-off bell. 

I had on my Sabbath claes, 

And was steppin' doucely the gait 
To the kirk on the broomy braes ; 

I was standin' aside the yett, 

Crackin' aside the yett ; 
And syne I was singin' lood 

'Mang the lasses snod and blate 
Wi' their roses and southernwood. 
I hae nae mind o' the tex' 

For the psalm was the thing for me, 
And I gied a gey wheen Huns their paiks 

To the tiine o' auld " Dundee." 

They tell me I feucht like wud, 

And I've got a medal to shaw, 
But in a' that babble o' smoke and bluid 

My mind was far awa' ; 

My mind was far awa' 
In the peace o' a simmer glen, 

Daunderin' hame ower the heathery law, 
Wi' twae-three ither men. . . . 
But sudden the lift grew red 

Ere we wan to the pairtin' place ; 
And the next I kenned I was lyin' in bed 

And a Sister washin' my face. 


My faither was stench U.P. ; 

Nae guid in Rome could he fin' ; 
But, this war weel ower, I'm gaun back to see 

That kirk ahint the line — 

That kirk ahint oor line. 
And siller the priest I'll gie 

To pray for the sauls o' the deid langsyne 
Whae bigged the steeple for me. 
It's no that I'm chief wi' the Pape, 

But I owe the warld to yon bell ; 
And the beadle that swung the rape 

Will get half a croon for himsel'. 



Home Thoughts from Abroad 

AIFTER the war, says the papers, they'll no be content 
at hame. 
The lads that hae/eucht wi' death twae 'ear i' the mud and 
the rain and the snaw ; 
For aijter a sodger's life the shop will be unco tame ; 

They'll ettle at fortune and freedom in the new lands Jar 
aw a'. 

No me ! 

By God ! No me ! 

Aince we hae lickit oor faes 

And aince I get oot o' this hell, 

For the rest o' my leevin' days 

I'll mak a pet o' mysel'. 

I'll haste me back wi' an eident fit 

And settle again in the same auld bit. 

And oh ! the comfort to snowk again 

The reek o' my mither's but-and-ben, 

The wee box-bed and the ingle neuk 

And the kail-pat hung frae the chimley-heuk ! 


I'll gang back to the shop like a laddie to play, 

Tak doun the shutters at skreigh o' day, 

And weigh oot floor wi' a carefu' pride. 

And hear the clash o' the countraside. 

I'll wear for ordinar' a roond hard hat, 

A collar and dicky and black cravat. 

If the weather's wat I'll no stir ootbye 

Wi'oot an umbrella to keep me dry. 

I think I'd better no tak a wife — 

I've had a' the adventure I want in life. — 

But at nicht, when the doors are steeked, I'll sit, 

While the bleeze loups high frae the aiken ruit, 

And smoke my pipe aside the crook. 

And read in some douce auld-farrant book ; 

Or crack wi' Davie and mix a rummer. 

While the auld wife's pow nid-nods in slum'er ; 

And hark to the winds gaun tearin' bye 

And thank the Lord I'm sae warm and dry. 

When simmer brings the lang bricht e'en, 

I'll daunder doun to the bowling-green. 

Or delve my yaird and my roses tend 

For the big floo'er-show in the next back-end. 

Whiles, when the sun blinks aifter rain, 

I'll tak my rod and gang up the glen ; 

Me and Davie, we ken the piiles 

Whaur the troot grow great in the howes o' the hills ; 

And, wanderin' back when the gloamin' fa's 

And the midges dance in the hazel shaws, 

E 63 

We'll stop at the yett ayont the hicht 

And drink great wauchts o' the scented nicht, 

While the hoose lamps kin'le raw by raw 

And a yellow star hings ower the law. 

Davie will lauch like a wean at a fair 

And nip my airm to mak certain shiire 

That we're back frae yon place o' dule and dreid, 

To cor ain kind warld — 

But Davie's deid ! 
Nae mair gude nor ill can betide him. 
We happit him doun by Beaumont toun, 
A nd the half o' my hert's in the mools aside him. 



Fragment of mi Ode in Praise of the 
Royal Scots Fttsiliers 

YE'LL a' hae heard tell o' the FusiHer Jocks, 
The famous auld Fusilier Jocks ! 
They're as stieve as a stane, 
And as teuch as a bane, 
And as gleg as a pack o' muircocks. 
They're maistly as braid as they're lang, 
And the Gairman's a pump of! the fang 
When he faces the fire in their ee. 
They're no verra bonny, 
I question if ony 
Mair terrible sicht ye could see 
Than a chairge o' the Fusiher Jocks. 
It gars Hindenburg swear 
" Gott in Himmel, nae mair 
0' thae sudden and scan'alous shocks ! " 
And the cannon o' Krupp 
Ane and a' they shut up 
Like a pentit bit jaick-in-the-box, 
At the rush o' the Fusilier Jocks. 


The Kaiser he says to his son 

(The auld ane that looks Uke a fox) — 
" I went ower far 
When I stertit this war, 
Forgettin' the FusiUer Jocks. 
I could manage the French and Italians and Poles, 
The Russians and Tartars and yellow Mongols, 
The Serbs and the Belgians, the English and Greeks, 
And even the lads that gang wantin' the breeks ; 
But what o' thae Fusiher Jocks, 
That stopna for duntin' and knocks ? 
They'd rin wi' a yell 
Ower the plainstanes o' Hell ; 
They're no men ava — they are rocks ! 
They'd gang barefit 
Through the Bottomless Pit, 
And they'll tak Berlin in their socks, — 
Will thae terrible FusiUer Jocks ! " . . . 



The Great Ones 

AE mom aside the road frae Bray 
I wrocht my squad to mend the track ; 
A feck o' sodgers passed that way 
And garred me often straucht my back. 

By cam a GeneraJ on a horse, 

A jingUn' lad on either side. 
I gie'd my best salute of course, 

Weel pleased to see sic honest pride. 

And syne twae Frenchmen in a cawr — 
Yon are the lads to speel the braes ; 

They speldered me inch-deep wi' glaur 
And verra near ran ower my taes. 

And last the pipes, and at their tail 

Oor gaucy lads in martial hne. 
I stopped my wark and cried them hail, 

And wished them weel for auld lang syne. 


An auld chap plooin' on the muir 
Ne'er jee'd his held nor held his han', 

But drave his furrow straucht and fair, — 
Thinks I, " But ye're the biggest man." 



Fisher Jmnie 

PUIR Jamie's killed. A better lad 
Ye wadna find to busk a flee 
Or bum a piile or wield a gad 
Frae Berwick to the Glints o' Dee. 

And noo he's in a happier land. — 
It's Gospel truith and Gospel law 

That Heaven's yett maun open stand 
To folk that for their country fa'. 

But Jamie will be ill to mate ; 

He lo'ed nae miisic, kenned nae tiines 
Except the sang o' Tweed in spate, 

Or TaUa loupin' ower its Unns. 

I sair misdoot that Jamie's heid 
A croun o' gowd will never please ; 

He liked a kep o' dacent tweed 
Whaur he could stick his casts o' flees. 


If Heaven is a' that man can dream 

And a' that honest herts can wish, 
It maun provide some muirland stream. 

For Jamie dreamed o' nocht but fish. 

And weel I wot he'll up and speir 

In his bit blate and canty way, 
Wi' kind Apostles standin' near 

Whae in their time were fishers tae. 

He'll offer back his gowden croun 

And in its place a rod he'll seek, 
And bashfu'-like his herp lay doun 

And speir a leister and a cleek. 

For Jims had aye a poachin' whim ; 

He'll sune grow tired, wi' lawfu' flee 
Made frae the wings o' cherubim, 

O' castin' ower the Crystal Sea. . . . 

I picter him at gloamin' tide 

Steekin' the backdoor o' his hame 
And hastin' to the waterside 

To play again the auld auld game ; 

And syne wi' saumon on his back, 

Catch' t clean against the Heavenly law. 

And Heavenly byliffs on his track, 

Gaun linkin' doun some Heavenly shaw. 




Fratri Dilectissimo 

W. H. B. 

WHEN we were little wandering boys. 
And every hill was blue and high. 
On ballad ways and martial joys 
We fed our fancies, you and I. 
With Bruce we crouched in bracken shade, 
With Douglas charged the Paynim foes ; 
And oft in moorland noons I played 
Colkitto to your grave Montrose. 

The obliterating seasons flow — 

They cannot kUl our boyish game. 
Though creeds may change and kings may go, 

Yet burns undimmed the ancient flame. 
While young men in their pride make haste 

The wrong to right, the bond to free. 
And plant a garden in the waste, 

Still rides our Scottish chivalry. 

' From " The Marquis of Montrose." 

Another end had held your dream — 

To die fulfilled of hope and might, 
To pass in one swift rapturous gleam 

From mortal to immortal light- 
But through long hours of labouring breath 

You watched the world grow small and far, 
And met the constant eyes of Death, 

And haply knew how kind they are. 

One boon the Fates relenting gave— 

Not where the scented hill-wind blows 
From cedar thickets lies your grave, 

Nor 'mid the steep Himalayan snows. 
Night calls the stragglers to the nest, 

And at long last 'tis home indeed 
For your far-wandering feet to rest 

Forever by the crooks of Tweed. 

In perfect honour, perfect truth. 

And gentleness to all mankind, 
You trod the golden paths of youth. 

Then left the world and youth behind. 
Ah no ! 'Tis we who fade and fail — 

And you from Time's slow torments free 
Shall pass from strength to strength and scale 

The steeps of immortaUty. 


Dear heart, in that serener air, 

If blessed souls may backward gaze, 
Some slender nook of memory spare 

For our old happy moorland days. 
I sit alone, and musing fills 

My breast with pain that shall not die, 
Till once again o'er greener hills 

We ride together, you and I. 



To Lionel Phillips'^ 

TIME, they say, must the best of us capture, 
And travel and battle and gems and gold 
No more can kindle the ancient rapture. 

For even the youngest of hearts grows old. 
But in you, I think, the boy is not over ; 
So take this medley of ways and wars 
As the gift of a friend and a fellow-lover 
Of the fairest country under the stars. 

» From " Prester John." 



To Major-General 
The Hon. Sir Reginald Talbot, K.C.B} 

I TELL of old Virginian ways ; 
And who more fit my tale to scan 
Than you, who knew in far-off days 

The eager horse of Sheridan ; 
Who saw the sullen meads of fate, 

The tattered scrub, the blood-drenched sod. 
Where Lee, the greatest of the great. 
Bent to the storm of God ? 

I tell lost tales of savage wars ; 

And you have known the desert sands, 
The camp beneath the silver stars, 

The rush at dawn of Arab bands. 
The fruitless toil, the hopeless dream, 

The fainting feet, the faltering breath. 
While Gordon by the ancient stream 

Waited at ease on death. 

1 From "Salute to Adventurers." 

And now, aloof from camp and field, 

You spend your sunny autumn hours 
Where the green folds of Chiltem shield 

The nooks of Thames amid the flowers . 
You who have borne that name of pride, 

In honour clean from fear or stain, 
Which Talbot won by Henry's side 

In vanquished Aquitaine. 


From the Pentlands, Looking 
North and South 

AROUND my feet the clouds are drawn 
In the cold mystery of the dawn ; 
No breezes cheer, no guests intrude 
My mossy, mist-clad sohtude ; 
When sudden down the steeps of sky 
Flames a long, hghtening wind. On high 
The steel-blue arch shines clear, and far, 
In the low lands where cattle are, 
Towns smoke. And swift, a haze, a gleam,- 
The Firth hes hke a frozen stream. 
Reddening with mom. Tall spires of ships, 
Like thorns about the harbour's hps. 
Now shake faint canvas, now, asleep. 
Their salt, uneasy slumbers keep ; 
While golden-grey o'er kirk and wall 
Day wakes in the ancient capital. 

Before me he the hsts of strife. 
The caravanserai of Ufe, 


Whence from the gates the merchants go 
On the world's highways ; to and fro 
Sail laden ships ; and in the street 
The lone foot-traveller shakes his feet, 
And in some corner by the fire 
Tells the old tale of heart's desire. 
Thither from alien seas and skies 
Comes the far-quested merchandise : — 
Wrought silks of Broussa, Mocha's ware 
Brown-tinted, fragrant, and the rare 
Thin perfumes that the rose's breath 
Has sought, immortal in her death : 
Gold, gems, and spice, and haply still 
The red rough largess of the hill 
Which takes the sun and bears the-vines 
Among the haunted Apennines. . 
And he who treads the cobbled street 
To-day m the cold North may meet. 
Come month, come year, the dusky East, 
And share the CaUph's secret feast ; 
Or in the toil of wind and sun 
Bear pilgrim-staff, forlorn, fordone. 
Till o'er the steppe, athwart the sand. 
Gleam the far gates of Samarkand. 
The ringing quay, the weathered face, 
Fair skies, dusk hands, the ocean race. 
The palm-girt isle, the frosty shore. 
Gales and hot suns the wide world o'er, 
Grey North, red South, and burnished West, 
The goals of the old tireless quest, 


Leap in the smoke, immortal, free, 
Where shines yon morning fringe of sea. 

I turn ; — how still the moorlands lie, 

Sleep-locked beneath the awakening sky ! 

The film of morn is silver-grey 

On the young heather, and away, 

Dim, distant, set in ribs of hill, 

Green glens are shining, stream and mill 

Clachan and kirk and garden-ground, 

All silent in the hush profound 

Which haunts alone the hills' recess. 

The antique home of quietness. 

Nor to the folk can piper play 

The tune of " Hills and Far Away," 

For they are with them. Morn can fire 

No peaks of weary heart's desire. 

Nor the red sunset flame behind 

Some ancient ridge of longing mind. 

For Arcady is here, around. 

In lilt of stream, in the clear sound 

Of lark and moorbird, in the bold 

Gay glamour of the evening gold. 

And so the wheel of seasons moves 

To kirk and market, to mild loves 

And modest hates, and still the sight 

Of brown kind faces, and when night 

Draws dark around with age and fear 

Theirs is the simple hope to cheer. — 

A land of peace where lost romance 


And ghostly shine of helm and lance 
Still dwell by castled scarp and lea 
And the lost homes of chivalry. 
And the good fairy folk, my dear, 
Who speak for cunning souls to hear, 
In crook of glen and bower of hill 
Sing of the Happy Ages still. 

O Thou to whom man's heart is known, 
Grant me my morning orison. 
Grant me the rover's path — to see 
The dawn arise, the dayhght flee. 
In the far wastes of sand and sun ! 
Grant me with venturous heart to rvm 
On the old highway, where in pain 
And ecstasy man strives amain. 
Outstrips his fellows, or, too weak, 
Finds the great rest that wanderers seek ! 
Grant me the joy of wind and brine, 
The zest of food, the taste of wine, 
The fighter's strength, the echoing strife. 
The high tumultuous Usts of hfe — 
May I ne'er lag, nor hapless fall. 
Nor weary at the battle-call ! , . . 
But when the even brings surcease, 
Grant me the happy moorland peace ; 
That in my heart's depth ever lie 
That ancient land of heath and sky, 
Where the old rhymes and stories fall 
In kindly, soothing pastoral. 


There in the hills sweet silence lies, 
And Death himself wears friendly guise ; 
There be my lot, my twilight stage, 
Dear city of my pilgrimage. 



The Strong Man Armed 

GIFT me guerdon and grant me grace," 
Said the Lord of the North. 
Nothing I ask thee of gear or place 

Ere I get me forth. 
Gift one guerdon to mine and me 

For the shade and the sheen." 

• • • • • 

" Ask and it shall be given unto thee," 
Said Mary the Queen. 

" May I never falter the wide world through. 

But stand in the gate : 
May my sword bite sharp and my steel ring true 

At the ford and the strait : 
Bide not on bed nor dally with song 

When the strife goeth keen : 
This be my boon from the Gods of the Strong ! " 

• • • • • 

" Be it so," said the Queen. 


" May I stand in the mist and the clear and the chill, 

In the cycle of wars, 
In the brown of the moss and the grey of the hill 

With my eyes to the stars ! 
Gift this guerdon and grant this grace 

That I bid good e'en, 
The sword in the hand and the foot to the race, 
The wind in my teeth and the rain in my face ! " 

• • • • • 

" Be it so," said the Queen. 



The Soldier of Fortune 

I HAVE seen thy face in the foray, I have heard thy 
voice in the fray, 
When the stars shrunk in the silence, and the wild 
midnights blew. 
Men have worn their steel blades, seeking by night and 
Selling their souls for the vain dreams — I have followed 
the true. 
Frosts have dulled the scabbard, suns have furrowed the 
And the great winds of the north-east have steeled the 
vagrant eye. 
So through the world I wander, haggard and fierce and 
Seeking the goal I see not, toiling I tell not why. 

I have loved all good things, song and woman and wine. 
The hearth's red glow in the even, the gladsome face of 

a friend. 
The suns and snows of the hill land, the sting of the 

winter's brine, 


Dawn and noon and the twilight, day and the dayUght's 
I have ridden the old path, ridden it fierce and strong, 
By camp and city and moorland and the grey face of the 
Wrath abides on my forehead but at my heart a song, 
The ancient wayfaring ballad, the royal chant of the 

For ever in cloud or in maytide Thy voice has been in 
my ear, 
In the quivering mists of battle Thy face has shone Uke 
a star. 
Never the steel ranks broke when the Lord sent forth His 
But Thy hand has held my bridle and girt my soul for 
I am broken and houseless, lost my clan and my name ; 
A stranger treads on my homelands, no heart remem- 
bereth me. — 
But be Thou my portion. Lady of dew and flame ! 
Little I ask of the red gold, having the winds and thee 



The Singer 

COLD blows the drift on the hill. 
Sere is the heather. 
High goes the wind and shrill, 

Mirk is the weather. 
Stout be the front I show, 

Come what the gods send ! 
Plaided and girt I go 
Forth to the world's end. 

My brain is the stithy of years, 

My heart the red gold 
Which the gods with sharp anguish and tears 

Have wrought from of old. 
In the shining first dawn o' the world, 

I was old as the sky — 
The morning dew on the field 

Is no younger than I. 

I am the magician of life. 

The hero of runes ; 
The sorrows of eld and old strife 

Ring clear in my tunes. 


The sea lends her minstrel voice, 
The storm-cloud its grey ; 

And ladies have wept at my notes 
Fair ladies and gay. 

My home is the rim of the mist, 

The ring of the spray. 
The hart has his corrie, the hawk has her nest, 

But I— the Lost Way. 
Come dawning or noontide, come winter or spring, 

Come leisure, come war, 
I tarry not, I, but my burden I sing 

Beyond and afar. 

I sing of lost hopes and old kings 
And the maids of the past ; 

Ye shiver adread at my strings 
But ye heed them at last. 

I sing of cold death and the grave- 
Fools tremble afraid : 

I sing of hot life, and the brave 
Go forth undismayed. 

I sleep by the well-head of joy 

And the fountain of pain. 
Man lives, loves and fights, and then is not- 

I only remain. 


Ye mock me and hold me to scorn- - 

I seek not your grace ; 
Ye gird me with terror — forlorn, 

I laugh in your face. 




IN the ancient orderly places, with a blank and orderly 
We sit in our green walled gardens and our com and oil 
increase ; 
Sunset nor dawn can wake us, for the face of the heavens 
is kind ; 
We light our taper at even and call our comfort peace 

Peaceful our clear horizon ; calm as our sheltered days 
Are the lihed meadows we dwell in, the decent highways 
we tread. 
Duly we make our offerings, but we know not the God 
we praise, 
For He is the God of the living, and we, His children, 
are dead. 

I will arise and get me beyond this country of dreams, 
Where all is ancient and ordered and hoar with the 
frost of years, 
To the land where loftier mountains cradle their wilder 
And the fruitful earth is blessed with more bountiful 
smiles and tears : — 

1 From " A Lodge in the Wilderness." 


There in the home of the Ughtnings, where the fear of the 
Lord is set free, 
Where the thunderous midnights fade to the turquoise 
magic of morn, 
The days of man are a vapour, blown from a shoreless sea, 
A Httle cloud before sunrise, a cry in the void forlorn. 

I am weary of men and cities and the service of little things, 
Where the fiame-like glories of hfe are shrunk to a 
candle's ray. 
Smite me, my God, with Thy presence, blind my eyes 
with Thy wings, 
In the heart of Thy virgin earth show me Thy secret 
way 1 





Hearts to break hut nane to sell. 

Gear to tine but nane to hain ;- - 
We maun dree a weary spell 

Ere our lad comes hack again. 

I WALK abroad on winter days, 
When storms have stripped the wide champaign, 
For northern winds have norland ways. 

And scents of Badenoch haunt the rain. 
And by the hpping river path, 

When in the fog the Rhone runs grey, 
I see the heather of the strath. 
And watch the salmon leap in Spey. 

The hills are feathered wth young trees, — 

I set them for my children's boys. 
I made a garden deep in ease, 

A pleasance for my lady's joys. 


Strangers have heired them. Long ago 
She died, — kind fortune thus to die ; 

And my one son by Beauly flow 
Gave up the soul that could not he. 

Old, elbow-worn, and pinched I bide 

The final toll the gods may take. 
The laggard years have quenched my pride ; 

They cannot kill the ache, the ache. 
Weep not the dead, for they have sleep 

Who Ue at home ; but ah, for me 
In the deep grave my heart will weep 

With longing for my lost countrie. 

Hearts to break hut nane to sell, 
Gear to tine hut nane to hain ; — - 

We maun dree a weary spell 
Ere our lad comes back again. 



The Gipsy's Song to the Lady Cassilis 

"Whereupon the Faas, coming down from the Gates of Galloway, 
did so bewitch my lady that she forgat husband and kin, 
and followed the tinkler's piping." — Chap-book of the Raid 
of Cassilis. 

THE door is open to the wall, 
The air is bright and free ; 
Adown the stair, across the hall, 
And then — the world and me ; 
The bare grey bent, the running stream, 

The fire beside the shore ; 
And we will bid the hearth farewell, 
And never seek it more, 

My love, 
And never seek it more. 

And you shaU wear no silken gown, 
No maid shall bind your hair ; 

The yellow broom shall be your gem 
Your braid the heather rare. 

Athwart the moor, adown the hill, 
Across the world away ; 

G 95 

The path is long for happy hearts 
That sing to greet the day. 

My love, 
That sing to greet the day. 

When morning cleaves the eastern grey, 

And the lone hills are red ; 
When sunsets light the evening way 

And birds are quieted ; 
In autumn noon and springtide dawn. 

By hill and dale and sea, 
The world shall sing its ancient song 

Of hope and joy for thee, 
My love, 

Of hope and joy for thee. 

And at the last no solemn stole 

Shall on thy breast be laid ; 
No mumbling priest shall speed thy soul, 

No charnel vault thee shade. 
But by the shadowed hazel copse, 

Aneath the greenwood tree. 
Where airs are soft and waters sing, 

Thou' It ever sleep by me, 
My love, 

Thou'lt ever sleep by me. 



Wood Magic 

(9th Century) 

I WILL walk warily in the wise woods on the fringes of 
For the covert is full of noises and the stir of nameless 
I have seen in the dusk of the beeches the shapes of the 
lords that ride, 
And down in the marish hollow I have heard the lady 
who sings. 
And once in an April gloaming I met a maid on the sward, 
All marble- white and gleaming and tender and wild of 
I, Jehan the hunter, who speak am a grown man, middling 
But I dreamt a month of the maid, and wept I knew 
not why. 

Down by the edge of the firs, in a coppice of heath and 
Is an old moss-grown altar, shaded by briar and bloom. 


Denys, the priest, Hath told me 'twas the lord Apollo's 
In the days ere Christ came down from God to the 
Virgin's womb. 
I never go past but I doff my cap and avert my eyes — 
(Were Denys to catch me I trow I'd do penance for 
half a year.) — 
For once I saw a flame there and the smoke of a sacrifice, 
And a voice spake out of the thicket that froze my soul 
with fear. 

Wherefore to God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, 
Mary the Blessed Mother, and the kindly Saints as well, 
I will give glory and praise, and them I cherish the most. 
For they have the keys of Heaven, and save the soul 
from Hell. 
But Ukewise I will spare for the lord Apollo a grace. 
And a bow for the lady Venus — as a friend but not as 
a thrall. 
'Tis true they are out of Heaven, but some day they may 
win the place ; 
For gods are kittle cattle, and a wise man honours them 



The Song of the Sea Captain 

Diego d' Alboquerque, brother of the great Affonso, a knight of the 
Portuguese Order of Jesus Christ, having landed on the coast 
north of Zanzibar, wandered to the Abyssinian highlands, 
where he saw and loved Prester John's daughter, MeUssa, a 
cousin of the Lady of Tripoli {la princesse lointaine). He was 
slain oflE Goa in the great fight with the Sultan of Muscat. 

I SAIL a lone sea captain 
Around the southern seas ; 
Worn as my cheek, the flag of Christ 

Floats o'er me on the breeze. 
By green isle and by desert, 

By little white-walled town, 
To west wind and to east wind 
I lead my galleons down. 

I know the black south-easter, 

I know the drowsy calms 
When the slow tide creeps shoreward 

To lave the idle palms. 
Of many a stark sea battle 

The Muslim foe can tell, 
When their dark dhows I sent to crabs 

And their dark souls to hell. 


Small reck have I of Muslim, 

Small reck of winds and seas, 
The waters are my pathway 

To bring me to my ease. 
The dawns that burn above me 

Are torches set to hght 
My footsteps to a garden 

Of roses red and white. 

• • • • • 

Five months we stood from Lagos, 

While, scant of food and sleep, 
We tracked da Gama's highroad 

Across the Guinea deep. 
All spent we were with watching 

When, ghostly as a dream. 
The Bona Esperanza cape 

Rose dark upon the beam. 

Then by the low green inlets 

We groped our passage forth. 
Outside the shallow surf-bars 

We headed for the north. 
Sofala gave us victual, 

Inyaka ease and rest, 
But of the wayside harbours 

I loved Melinda best. 

'Twas on a day in April, 
The Feast of Rosaly, 


We beached our weary vessels, 

Cried farewell to the sea, 
And with ten stout companions 

And hearts with youth made bold 
We sought the inland mountains 

Of which our fathers told. 

No chart had we or counsel 

To guide our weary feet. 
To north and west we wandered 

In drought and dust and heat, 
Till o'er the steaming tree-tops 

We saw the far-off dome 
Of mystic icy mountains. 

And knew the Prester's home. 

Nine days we clomb the foothills. 

Nine days the mountain wall, 
Sheer cliff and ancient forest 

And fretted waterfall ; 
And on the tenth we entered 

A meadow cool and deep. 
And in the Prester's garden 

We laid us down to sleep. 

Long time we fared Hke princes 

In palaces of stone. 
For never guest goes cheerless 

Who meets with Prester John ; 


Where woodlands mount to gardens 
And gardens climb to snows 

And wells of living water 
Sing rondels to the rose. 

And there among the roses, 

More white and red than they. 
There walked the gleaming lady, 

The princess far away. 
Dearer her golden tresses 

Than the high pomp of wars, 
And deep and still her eyes as lakes 

That brood beneath the stars. 

There walked we and there spoke we 

Of things that may not cease, 
Of life and death and God's dear love 

And the eternal peace. 
For in that shadowed garden 

The world had grown so small 
That one white girl in one white hand 

Could clasp and hold it all. 

I craved the Prester's blessing, 
I kissed his kingly hand : 

" Too soon has come the parting 
From this fair mountain land. 


But shame it were for Christian knight 

To take his leisure here 
When o'er the broad and goodly earth 

The MusUra sends his fear. 

" I go to gird my sword on, 

To drive my fleets afar, 
To court the wrath of tempests, 

The dusty toils of war. 
But when my vows are ended. 

Then, joyous from the fray, 
I come to claim my lady, 

The princess far away." 

• • • • • 

I sail a lone sea captain 

Across the southern seas ; 
Worn as my cheek, the flag of Christ 

Still flaunts upon the breeze. 
By green isle and by desert, 

By little white-wafled town. 
To west wind and to east wind 

I lead my galleons down. 

But in the starkest tempest. 
And in the drowsy heats. 

Where on the shattered coral 
The far-drawn breaker beats 


In seas of dreaming water, 
And in the wind-swept spray, 

I see my snow-white lady. 
The princess far away. 

Sometimes in inland places 

We march for weary days, 
Where thorns parch in the noontide 

Or fens are dark with haze ; — 
For me 'tis but a march of dreams, 

For ever, clear and low, 
I hear cool waters falling 

In the garden of the snow. 

Small reck have I of Muslim, 

Small reck of sands or seas ; 
The wide world is my pathway 

To lead me to my ease. 
The dawns that burn above me 

Are torches set to hght 
My footsteps to a garden 

Of roses red and white. 



Antiphihis of Byzanthmi 

Anth. Pal. ix. 546. 

GIVE me a mat on the deck, 
When the awnings sound to the blows of the spray 
And the hearthstones crack with the flames a-back 

And the pot goes bubbling away. 
Give me a boy to cook my broth ; 

For table a ship's plank lacking a cloth, 

And never a fork or knife ; 
And, after a game with a rusty pack, 
The bo'sun's whistle to pipe us back — 

That's the fortune fit for a king, 

For Oh ! I love common life ! 



An Echo of Meleager 

SCORN not my love, proud child. The summers wane. 
Long ere the topmost mountain snows have gone 
The Spring is flitting ; 'neath the April rain 

For one brief day flowers laugh on Helicon. 
The breeze that fans thy honeyed cheek this noon 
To-morrow will be blasts that scourge the main, 
And youth and joy and laughter fleet too soon. — 
Scorn not my love, proud child. The summers wane. 

To-day the rose blooms by the garden plot, 

The swallows twitter 'neath the Parian dome ; 
But soon the roses fall and He forgot. 

And soon the swallows will be turning home. 
Tempt not the arrows of the Cyprian's eye, 

Vex not the god that will not brook disdain ; — 
Love is the port to which the wise barks fly. 

Scorn not my love, proud child. The summers wane. 








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